The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. They produce a woman's eggs and make female hormones. Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs in or on an ovary. They usually form during ovulation, when the ovary releases an egg. They are usually harmless and go away by themselves. Most women have them sometime during their lives.
Most ovarian cysts are small and don't cause symptoms. Women may not find out that they have them until they have a pelvic exam. If there are symptoms, they may include:
- Pain in the lower abdomen, on the side where the cyst is
If your health care provider finds a cyst, you may be able to wait to see if it gets bigger. You may need surgery if you have pain, are past menopause, or if the cyst does not go away. If a cyst bursts or causes bleeding, you should get medical help right away. Birth control pills can help prevent new cysts.
Rarely, ovarian cysts can become cancerous. This risk increases as you get older.
A health problem that involves ovarian cysts is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Women with PCOS can have high levels of male hormones, irregular or no periods, and small ovarian cysts.
Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health
- Culdocentesis (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- DHEA-sulfate test (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) blood test (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Laparoscopy (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Ovarian Cyst (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
- Ovarian Cysts (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Ovarian Cysts (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health) Also in Spanish
- Ovarian Cysts and Infertility: Is There a Connection? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Pelvic laparoscopy (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Pelvic laparoscopy - slideshow (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Pelvic ultrasound - abdominal (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Pelvis MRI scan (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Pelvis Ultrasound (American College of Radiology; Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish
- Transvaginal ultrasound (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Ovarian Cysts (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Atretic preovulatory follicles could be precursors of ovarian lutein cysts in...
- Article: Managing Fetal Ovarian Cysts: Clinical Experience with a Rare Disorder.
- Article: Ultrasonographic features associated with previous torsion and the impact of surgery...
- Ovarian Cysts -- see more articles
- Ovarian cysts (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish